|By Mike Gorrell, The Salt Lake Tribune|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
May 11, 2005 - Once again, a new nameplate adorns the 14-story hotel at 215 W. South Temple.
Now it is a Radisson.
A year ago on May 12, the one-time Doubletree Hotel switched its name from the Wyndham to Prime Hotel Salt Lake City Convention Center. It was one of 12 Wyndhams nationally that Prime Hospitality Corp. acquired in a lease agreement with Hospitality Properties Trust, a New York-based real estate investment trust.
But Prime Hotel's stay in the Salt Lake City market was short-lived. In October, Prime Hospitality Corp. was purchased by Blackstone Investment, which turned around two months later and sold it to Hyatt Hotels Corp.
Hyatt was interested primarily in Prime Hospitality's 270 limited-service properties, which operate under the brand name AmeriSuites.
So Hyatt kept the AmeriSuites, but turned over the 381-room Salt Lake City hotel and the 11 other Wyndhams to Carlson Hotels Worldwide, a global company whose affiliates include Radisson Hotel & Resorts.
"This new hotel adds strength to the North American presence of our brand," said Bjorn Gullaksen, executive vice president and brand leader for Carlson's full-service hotels, which include 900 locations in 69 countries.
Carlson's move into the Salt Lake City market comes as a relief to the hotel's staff, which has felt the instability of three ownership changes in a year.
"I've got a lot of business cards with different [corporate] names on them," joked general manager Gene Thissen, who started running the hotel in February 2004 when Prime Hospitality was taking over from Wyndham. Turning serious, he added, "Carlson is a terrific company. They have been around for a long time. They're family owned, very loyal and, I might add, they have happy employees. To be part of that is great news for us."
A temporary Radisson sign was hung in front of the building on May 4.
More importantly, Thissen said, the Salt Lake City hotel was hooked into Radisson's central reservations system.
"The first day we were a Radisson, we received about one-third as many reservations as we got in a month from Prime. We had virtually no help from their [Prime's] corporate office," he added.
Thissen said Radisson will spend about $3.6 million to upgrade the hotel's aesthetics, redoing all guest rooms and bathrooms, installing new lighting and sprucing up hallways with new wallpaper.
"We're going to be a much prettier hotel," Thissen said.
And with Radisson's reservation system improving the hotel's access to increasing numbers of business travelers, he also expects to add more employees.
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